Dedicated yogis strutting to class, silver-haired ladies who lunch, and parents chaperoning preteens all gather on Larchmont Boulevard. The broad, tree-lined stretch between 1st and Beverly popped up in the 1920s as a shopping district serving adjacent Hancock Park and expanded north to Melrose over the years. Though rising rents have forced out many independent businesses, with some disputes even going to court, the sidewalk dining and locally owned boutiques still give the street a vibe you’d expect to find in Nantucket, not L.A.
1. Café Gratitude
Organic, vegan dishes named “I Am Pure” and “I Am Magical” seem like a Woody Allen punch line. Don’t be deceived. “I Am Transformed” is a spot-on plate of tacos with black beans, brown rice, and cashew nacho cheese. » 639 N. Larchmont Blvd., 323-580-6383.
What’s in a name?
Inspiration may have come from Larchmont in Westchester County, New York, or from the larch tree.
The Larchmont Farmers’ Market takes place every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
An annual Fall Sidewalk Sale runs September 9 to 11. The Larchmont Family Fair is held October 23 and features a petting zoo.
2. Landis Gifts and Stationery
For whimsical birthday notes, monogrammed letterpress cards, or wedding invitations, this cluttered but homey shop delivers distinctive choices from Dauphine Press and Haute Papier to Kate Spade and Vera Wang. » 138 N. Larchmont Blvd., 323-465-7003.
3. CH Boutique
Scarves from India, leather clutches from Scotland, hand-painted eggs from Russia: Owner Dalia Moretti has an eye for finding eclectic gift items that span the globe. The elegant displays and attentive service create a luxurious atmosphere. » 130 N. Larchmont Blvd., 323-467-3755.
The girls’ clothing looks like works of art, embellished with floral appliqués, sequins, and tulle. For boys and less formal tots, you’ll find Angel Dear coveralls, Wes and Willy cargo shorts, and a rainbow of See Kai Run shoes. Sizes for boys range from newborn to age 7; for girls, newborn to tween. » 204 N. Larchmont Blvd., 323-466-5822 .
5. Larchmont Village Wine, Spirits & Cheese
There are nearly 700 bottles of vino and dozens of cheeses, but folks line up for sandwiches like soppressatta with Manchego. » 223 N. Larchmont Blvd., 323-856-8699.
6. Village Footwear
Comfy shoes without the granny look are the specialty here. Stylish brands such as Arcopedico, Naot, and Mephisto provide major arch support . » 3817 W. Sunset Blvd., 323-666-2228.
7. Landis’ Labyrinth
While kids who stream into the tiny toy shop gravitate to the Beanie Boos—stuffed animals with megawatt eyes—adults unleash their inner child with old-school favorites like Candy Land, Monopoly, Mr. Potato Head, and Lite-Brite . » 3823 W. Sunset Blvd., 323-663-6885.
8. Village Pizzeria
There’s nothing fancy about the place, but its thin-crust Neapolitan and thick-crust Sicilian pies—prepared with Wisconsin mozzarella, house-made marinara, and a slew of toppings—can hold their own against the ones at gourmet joints that charge twice the price. » 131 N. Larchmont Blvd., 323-465-5566.
9. Goorin Bros.
The hat emporium’s chandelier and oval mirrors are as eye-catching as the finely crafted straws and flat caps. Founded in 1895, the Goorin brand also features classic cloches and fedoras. Pay homage to Bonnie or Clyde without breaking the bank. » 141½ N. Larchmont Blvd., 323-463-2006.
Designer duds by Oscar de la Renta and Valentino share space with more casual pieces at this consignment store that feels like a boudoir. Whether vintage or contemporary, all the women’s clothing, shoes, and accessories are in excellent condition. » 658 N. Larchmont Blvd., 323-466-3300.
Why I Love It Here by Filis Winthrop
Co-owner, Chevalier’s Books,126 N. Larchmont Blvd., 323-465-1334.
I retired from teaching senior English at L.A. High, and in 1990, I bought this place. It originally opened in 1940 and had been a private bank with a black-and-white marble floor and a copper-lined vault. They’re still here. My customers are mostly from the neighborhood. Everybody knows everybody else. We’re an independent bookstore, and this is the best-kept secret around. There are good restaurants on the street. I like Le Pain Quotidien for soup and Le Petit Greek for lunch or dinner. You can tear into Rite Aid for a quart of milk, but I remember Jurgensen’s Grocery, Safeway, Phil’s Poultry, and Larchmont Hardware. They’re gone, but like the Little Engine That Could, we keep chugging along.
Photographs by Mindee Choi. Illustration by Andy Friedman